SA need Rilee for ‘do-or-die’

Rilee Rossouw (AFP)
Rilee Rossouw (AFP)

Cape Town – Pub quiz question, if you like: how many runs has Rilee Rossouw scored in his three one-day internationals in Gauteng?

The answer is 349. At an average of 116.33. And combined strike rate of 108.

Oh yes, he also nailed 26 fours and 13 sixes, just for good measure, across that unmistakably dazzling trio of appearances.

His runs have come as follows (from most recent): 89 v New Zealand, SuperSport Park, August 19 2015; 132 v West Indies, SuperSport Park, January 28 2015; 128 v West Indies, Wanderers, January 18 2015.

Those innings happen to also represent his highest scores in the left-hander’s 28 ODIs; he clearly delights in the generally good-paced pitches provided at the venues, respective scenes of many a testosterone-charged encounter, and the extra benefits provided by the thin Highveld air and billiard-table outfields.

In the process of being so prolific, Knights muscler Rossouw has featured in partnerships in those two fixtures against the Windies – each time with Hashim Amla, and each time coincidentally netting 247 runs – that fall into the prized top 20 in history (at joint-18th) for alliances for any wicket and any country in ODIs.    

It does rather provoke this question to South Africa’s, um, brains trust: so why didn’t he play in Tuesday’s match against England at the Centurion venue?

It also begs another: will he twiddle his thumbs again in the make-or-break fourth clash with the same foes at Johannesburg’s legendary Bullring on Friday (13:30 start)?

England will probably be chastened by their humbling on Tuesday and, unless some of their multi-format players are beginning to get a damaging hint of long-tour fatigue, intent only on reinstating their mostly summer-long mastery over South Africa.

It means that “Pink Day” could see a riot of runs at a ground where this so uncannily frequently occurs.

The Wanderers may be no place for nudgers or nurdlers; the Proteas will need to assemble every heavy bomber at the crease that they can.

With tears in my eyes, I suggest sanity must prevail and Rilee Rossouw be among them this time.

Or do those seductive stats, on the verge of Valentine’s Day, count for diddly squat?

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